FREEHOLD, NJ—A former county sheriff who pleaded guilty to corruption charges will go to jail for up to nine years, in accordance with a plea agreement with the NJ Attorney General’s office.
Joe Spicuzzo, 67, is ineligible for parole for the first two years of his sentence, according to the plea agreement approved by Judge Anthony Mellaci.
PolitickerNJ.com reports that Spicuzzo is also required to pay a $55,000 fine and forfeit his pension. He will be barred from public employment for the rest of his life.
The case was moved to Monmouth County Courthouse in Freehold, due to the obvious conflict of interest in Middlesex County, where his crimes occurred.
A grand jury indictment detailed how Spicuzzo charged several new hires as much as $25,000 to join the force of investigators, special positions appointed by the sheriff. For much of his time as a law enforcement official, he was also serving as the Chairman of the Middlesex County Democrat Organization, helping city and county officials stay in office.
In 2004, Spicuzzo sufferred a stroke but still won his election for sheriff. Despite his failing health, Spicuzzo ran again for sheriff in 2007 and remained the figurehead of the county Democrat organization until the day he was arrested in 2011.
As we reported in 2012, Spicuzzo had two years earlier decided against running for an eleventh term as sheriff in the wake of huge settlements paid to former employees who said Spicuzzo sexually harrassed them.
Millie Scott replaced him in the powerful elected law enforcement position, and facing her first re-election campaign, she will have to decide how to address the issue of what to do with the investigators who paid for their jobs.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.